Opportunities for creative link building solutions are plentiful. Just solve a user problem. Here's one example in the travel and hospitality industry.
Link building opportunities can be discovered by solving a customer's problem. Consider the concierge at luxury hotels. A common service is to make restaurant recommendations and provide directions.
Who would you trust for a recommendation on a Mediterranean restaurant? A Greek food lover or someone who may have never even dined at the restaurant they recommend?
Link Building Opportunity
Create an interactive map for guests to read restaurant reviews and then print a custom map with directions.
This could be a mashup of a mapping service pulling in restaurant reviews from several different sites. Then incorporate reviews your own guests write.
Next allow users to rate reviews. Sort all the reviews from most useful to least. Make this tool available to the general public.
What about current guests and printing? The solution: from the interactive map provide an option to "print to the concierge," "print to front desk" or "print to lobby kiosk."
To further enhance the guest experience, install a lobby computer with printers for guests who don't travel with laptop printers or laptops. Or, consider that your guests may just prefer the convenience of your service -- and rave about it to their friends and business colleagues.
An additional benefit: the "print-to" feature will be an invaluable tool for the concierge. Now concierges can provide custom maps and make better recommendations.
Integrate Links into the Marketing Mix and Promote
Integrate this new tool into your marketing promotions. Spread the word and create buzz. Get your PR department involved or hire a PR firm. Create a social media promotion strategy. You've heard of SEO PR, I hope?
Here's a list of organizations and individuals you can contact first:
- Chamber of Commerce
- Convention & Visitors Bureau
- Mayor's office
- Local restaurants
- Restaurant associations and groups
- Travel sites
Want More Links?
Simple. Offer the restaurant review/mapping tool to other Web sites to use.
I hear the marketing vice president saying, "Why would we let potential competitors use our tool?"
Down the street I hear the competition's vice president saying, "Why would we risk losing clients to them? Acquisition cost is too high!"
Build Links by Fighting Conventional Wisdom
Yes, it may even be worthwhile to let smaller lodging establishments utilize your tool on their site. Look at this as an opportunity to gain new customers and build brand awareness. Perhaps they were staying on a family vacation or road trip. Now on their next business trip they may just request your hotel or recommend it to friends.
Of course the tool links back to your site and all print-outs are branded.
The key is to reach out to sites whose users would benefit from this tool and offer it to them. This could range from local travel guides to visitors bureau to colleges.
There's a flood of prospective students, freshmen, parents, and grandparents visiting local colleges every year. Many colleges offer "restaurant recommendations" to visitors. Even if a college doesn't use your mapping/review tool on their site, many will at least link to it.
Bottom Line Results
In the end, your guests are happier, the site has acquired quality links, and your online marketing reach has expanded. Depending on how well it was integrated into hotel operations, the concierges may even have more time to focus on other guest needs.
The question now: "What user problems or issues can you solve for your particular industry?"
"What are the linking opportunities? How can we capitalize on them?"
Justilien is off this week. This column was originally published on January 24, 2008.